Beeping anti-theft device mistaken for bomb in Maplewood


The Maplewood Police Department helped keep passersby safely away from the Maplewood Mall Metro Transit Station until it was clear there was no bomb. Aundrea Kinney/photo

When a Metro Transit bus operator heard a beeping sound in one of the trash cans at the Maplewood Mall Metro Transit Station, the driver immediately contacted Metro Transit Police Officers, fearing the noise could be coming from a bomb.

The St. Paul Police Department’s bomb squad ultimately determined the beeping was not a bomb, but a theft deterrent device, likely from the nearby Maplewood Mall.

“Obviously, we take those things quite seriously,” said Howie Padilla, public relations manager of Metro Transit.

According to Padilla, the bus operator heard the beeping just after 2 p.m. Oct. 4, and busses scheduled to stop at the Maplewood Metro Transit Station were routed elsewhere until about 4 p.m. when the area was determined to be safe.

Assisting Metro Transit Police, the Maplewood Police and Fire departments and North St. Paul Fire Department responded by safely clearing people out of the area, according to 

Cdr. Dave Kvam of the Maplewood Police Department.

Kvam explained that the St. Paul Police Department’s bomb squad had a canine unit smell the trashcan to sense if it contained explosives, and the dog indicated that it did — he added that it was never clear why the dog was mistaken.

The bomb squad sent in a robot next, Kvam said, adding that ultimately a human member of the bomb squad had to be sent in because the robot could not get a clear image of the device, which was wrapped in fabric.

“Someone stole something presumably at the mall and dumped the anti-theft device,” Kvam said. “Apparently it beeps.”

Metro Transit tweeted just after 3 p.m. that those parked at the transit center were able to retrieve their cars and that they would not tow any cars left at the transit center overnight.

 

—Aundrea Kinney

 

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